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SF’s worst apartment elevator is held together by a zip tie

A bag of tools sits next to a downed elevator on the fourth floor of the Cadillac Hotel, a supportive housing facility at 380 Eddy St. | David Sjostedt/SF Standard

San Francisco’s worst low-income housing elevator is being held together by a zip tie, and it’s unclear whether the funding that the city has allocated for repairs will be enough to fix it. 

According to the San Francisco Fire Department, this particular elevator at the Tenderloin’s Cadillac Hotel, a low-income housing facility known as a Single Resident Occupancy (SRO), has required more rescues than any other in the city’s supportive housing portfolio.

A resident at the Cadillac told The Standard that a zip tie is currently being used to keep it functional—specifically, to prevent an elevator door part from falling off. 

Joe Smith, who lives on the hotel’s fourth floor and who has had multiple knee surgeries, told The Standard that the elevator was broken for much of the first nine months he moved in. When the elevator is down, Smith said, he’s unable to bring loads of laundry up the stairs, forcing him to buy a new pair of clothes when his old ones get dirty.

“I’ve got so many sweat suits, you wouldn’t believe,” Smith said. “It paralyzes me. It’s real hard on me when it’s broken down.”

The precariously functioning elevator at the Cadillac Hotel at 380 Eddy St. | Courtesy Cadillac Hotel resident

Though the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development is preparing to allocate funding for repairs to the city’s many dilapidated low-income housing facilities, the Cadillac Hotel may only receive a sliver of the funds—if any at all. 

The mayor’s housing office will be making $20 million available for capital improvements, including elevator repairs, later this month. Half of that funding is from “certificate of participation” proceeds—a form of debt similar to a bond—and the other half from federal and other sources. The city’s Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing is also designating funds for capital repairs.

Anne Stanley, communications manager from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, told The Standard that the Cadillac’s functioning elevator may be among those eligible for repairs, but that applicants for funding will be ranked based on urgency and other factors.

Kathy Looper, executive director of Reality House West, which manages the Cadillac, expressed concern that her elevator wouldn’t be prioritized.

“I think it would be wonderful if they would increase the amount, so more hotels could start the process of elevator repair,” Looper said. 

Elevators within the city’s supportive housing portfolio required emergency rescues 125 times between January 2021 and July 2022, according to fire department data. 

Residents throughout these buildings have told The Standard that a broken elevator can turn them into prisoners in their own rooms. Some recounted sliding or limping down flights of stairs to leave their apartments.  


San Francisco’s most vulnerable residents are often left literally trapped in elevators that don’t work. The city put money aside to fix them—but it hasn’t come through. Read our full report. #sf #housing #fyp

♬ Serious and mysterious music box(1224981) – Wills Minutes

In 2015, a blind supportive housing resident fell to their death when an elevator door opened into an empty lift shaft at the Hartland Hotel.

Stanley of the city’s housing office said her agency will start accepting applications for repair funding this month.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify details of the available funding for elevator repairs and other capital improvements.

David Sjostedt can be reached at